While there are plenty of welding machines that perform only one process, multiprocess welders are capable of multiple processes.
If you’re having trouble deciding between Stick, MIG, or TIG welding – the multiprocess machines will allow you to do all 3.
These machines have really progressed in recent years, and they have come down to a price point that is more manageable than before. If you’re a hobbyist that wants to play around with different projects and processes, these multiprocess welders might be worth a look.
This article will cover the main pros and cons of these machines. Just because they can do all 3 processes does not mean they are flawless. However, for general fabrication work, they can come in super handy.
Pro #1 – Lightweight
Although this isn’t true for all models, some multiprocess welders are surprisingly light. The Miller Multimatic 215 weighs in at only 38 pounds. This is pretty incredible considering what it is capable of.
This lightweight era of machines allows them to be transported easily. You can carry them around on different jobs without much of a hassle.
Miller isn’t the only company that has figured out how to make a lightweight multiprocess machine. ESABs Rebel EMP 215ic comes in at only 40 pounds.
With these machines on the market, there really isn’t an excuse for not completing a job. You can carry them around and even up multiple levels of stairs.
Keep in mind that you will need sufficient power to run these machines. While a 120v household outlet will give you light duty welding power, a 240v outlet is the best bet.
Pro #2 – Not Very Expensive
While these machines aren’t cheap by any means, they aren’t as pricey as a new engine drive. For less than $2,500, you can be set to weld with all 3 types of processes. This makes it much more attainable for younger welders to start their own hustle, without needing 10k just to break into the business.
It also allows beginners to learn the different processes without needing dedicated machines. In the past, if you wanted to MIG weld, you had to get a machine that was specifically for MIG welding. Not anymore!
If you can’t afford welding school and want to learn on your own, investing in one of these machines will allow you to progress with each process and see which one you prefer.
With all of the great welding videos out there, it is not uncommon for beginners to learn in their garage and save the tuition for a trade school.
Youtube channels like weldingtipsandtricks, weldtube, and weld.com have allowed thousands of people to learn how to weld from the comfort of their own garage (or workshop).
Pro #3 – Money Maker!
Contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t need a 20 thousand dollar welding machine to start making some side cash.
Having a multiprocess welder in your garage will allow you to tackle projects and start building clientele. When people know you have welding skills, word will spread quick. Even if you start out repairing trailers or mufflers, it is a great way to capitalize on your skill set.
For welders that can’t afford an engine drive, a multiprocess machine can still be the catalyst to starting a welding business. Having the customers come to you is not a bad thing – you can earn a living in your own garage – pretty awesome.
These welders are also great for repair work around the house or on the farm. If you need to repair some fencing, these welders can tackle it without a problem.
Pro #4 – They Hold Their Value
If you take care of these machines, they are pretty easy to sell when you want to upgrade. Welders are always looking for deals on used machines, and multiprocess machines are no exception.
As long as you keep them in good shape and don’t overload them, you shouldn’t have issues finding a serious buyer.
Pro #5 – Good Warranty
Welding machines nowadays come with good warranties – that is, if the brand is reputable. Millers 3 year warranty is tough to beat, and ESABs warranty varies between 1-3 years depending on the product.
This helps to know that your hard earned money won’t be wasted if your machine fails somewhere down the line. These companies didn’t get to be reputable by ignoring customers.
With this being said, water damage and other catastrophes are often not covered. It is important to avoid these types of damages and to keep the machine in a safe spot.
Con #1 – Limited Power
Although these products are very capable, they won’t produce the power that an engine drive does. Larger machines like a Millermatic can produce more MIG voltage in a shop setting. Engine drives like a Miller Bobcat can do the same while out in the field (stick welding).
The higher end multiprocess welders will come with a 240V plugin option. This allows for amperages up to 180 at a 25% duty cycle (for ESABs version). Although 180 amps is usually plenty, a 25% duty cycle isn’t ideal. It means that for a 10 minute period, you can only weld for 2 and a half minutes.
Larger machines and engine drives are capable of high amperages with a 100% duty cycle. This means that you can continue welding without overheating the machine.
If you plan on doing lots of heavy duty welding, a multiprocess machine isn’t the best choice. Keep the duty cycle in mind when selecting a machine.
Con #2 – Ok At Everything
These machines can do all 3 processes, but not super well. The MIG arc is fine, but not as good as a high end dedicated MIG machine. The Stick arc is smooth, but not as smooth as a dedicated Stick welding machine – you get the point.
So while these machines can handle it all, they don’t really excel at 1 particular process. If you want the cleanest TIG welds possible, it is best to opt for a dedicated TIG machine – etc.
Con #3 – Expensive Repairs
Since these machines are basically computers, having a part fail can be a costly repair. While these are sometimes covered by the warranty, it is not always the case.
Having to replace these chips and boards can be very costly, and for this reason these machines can be a liability.
With this being said, the quality control is usually excellent. A “lemon” machine is pretty rare when it comes to multiprocess welders.
However, be wary of cheap multiprocess machines from non reputable brands. If you stick with the name brands, the quality control is much better (in our opinion).
Con #4 – New Technology
While we know that a Lincoln engine drive can last for decades, no one is too sure how long these multiprocess machines will last.
They are very appealing and offer many benefits, but can they withstand years of use without having major problems? Who knows.
If you end up getting one of these machines, be warned that their longevity hasn’t really been tested. It could last for years to come, or it could break down at some point.
Welding equipment has come so far in the last decade, and we have yet to see how durable these new machines are.
Con #5 – Cheap Parts
Although these machines are built with some amazing quality, not all of the parts are that great. For example, the drive roll mechanisms for MIG welding are often made of plastic. Higher end MIG machines have metal drive rolls, so you can really see the difference between the dedicated machines and the multiprocess machines.
Since these machines are relatively affordable compared to others, not all of the components measure up.
Using plastic components and cutting corners is definitely a downside to these machines. It really depends on the brand, so it is a “hit or miss” scenario.